Get­ting the flu jab pro­tects every­one

Matamata Chronicle - - Out And About - PETER DORNAUF

Have you had the jab? I have and I don’t work in a hospi­tal.

I’m talk­ing about the flu in­jec­tion which I get each year be­cause I want to pro­tect my­self against the vi­ral in­fec­tion and pro­tect oth­ers in my fam­ily.

If I get in­fluenza, I’m likely to spread it to peo­ple who are sus­cep­ti­ble near me. And of course the same ap­plies to peo­ple in the wider com­mu­nity. They don’t want me spread­ing my lugubri­ous bugs.

It seems like a ba­sic, straight­for­ward act of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. Pro­tect your­self and thereby pro­tect oth­ers. Sim­ple. But not ac­cord­ing to the Waikato Nurses Union who have com­plained loudly about feel­ing ‘‘co­erced’’ by the Waikato District Health Board’s di­rec­tive that all health work­ers ei­ther get the jab or wear a mask.

Co­erced? I would have thought that such pro­fes­sion­als in the health sec­tor would will­ingly and ea­gerly com­ply with such a di­rec­tive. More. That they would have taken it upon them­selves, of their own vo­li­tion, given their knowl­edge and work­ing en­vi­ron­ment, to not only keep them­selves as healthy as pos­si­ble, but set an ex­am­ple to the gen­eral pop­u­lous.

What’s go­ing on here? Do they know some­thing we don’t? Are the pam­phlets in doc­tor’s wait­ing rooms up and down the coun­try en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to get the flu jab, bo­gus?

Or is it that the nurses union and its mem­bers are un­fa­mil­iar with the po­lit­i­cal philoso­pher, Thomas Hobbs, who pointed out some years ago the bleedin’ ob­vi­ous, that liv­ing in a so­ci­ety re­quires in­di­vid­u­als to give as­sent to cer­tain obli­ga­tions in­cum­bent on all who live in col­lec­tives. He called it the ‘‘so­cial con­tract’’.

Ev­ery­thing from, shut the door to keep the warmth in, to, don’t com­mit mur­der are manda­tory du­ties for those of us who live in groups. Those who don’t com­ply are called anti-so­cial for a rea­son. They don’t care about the col­lec­tive well­be­ing of the com­mu­nity.

They are care­less, self-cen­tred and think only of their own per­sonal needs and to hell with the unit as a whole. They wish to be free, in this case, to spread their mi­cro-or­gan­isms when and wher­ever they please.

Per­haps the mem­bers of the nurse’s union haven’t caught up with the philoso­pher, Im­manuel Kant, who set out the moral pa­ram­e­ters of judg­ing right and wrong in what he called the ‘‘cat­e­gor­i­cal im­per­a­tive’’.

What he meant was, in his own words: ‘‘Act so that you can will that ev­ery­body shall fol­low the prin­ci­ple of your ac­tion.’’ In other words, think about what would hap­pen if every­one did it.

You refuse the jab, so every­one re­fuses and the whole of so­ci­ety suf­fers. We get a pan­demic. Same goes for immunisation against measles, whoop­ing cough, the whole nine yards.

What Kant was say­ing is that one has to think col­lec­tively and con­se­quen­tially be­cause we live in a so­ci­ety. It wouldn’t mat­ter is we were alone like Robin­son Cru­soe on a desert is­land.

We could be­have as reck­lessly as we liked be­cause it wouldn’t im­pact on any­one else. We wouldn’t have to be­have so­cially re­spon­si­bly be­cause there would be no ‘‘so­cial’’ in the mix. In­oc­u­la­tion? For­get it. We would be free to cough and spit and splut­ter and spread our con­ta­gion over ev­ery­thing in sight.

If we all get the jab then the like­li­hood of the dis­ease spread­ing is di­min­ished and the good of the great­est num­ber, the ma­jor­ity in so­ci­ety, is en­hanced. HAVE YOUR SAY Email news and views to ni­cola.brennan@fair­fax me­dia.co.nz

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